CTI Blog

CTI Blog - CTI gets great response from Industry on skill shortages in Timber Supply Chain

This blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

You will recall the CTI launched the largest employer skills questionnaire ever undertaken in the UK's Timber Industry Supply Chain in January. We got a very good response with nearly 150 senior executives and other company representatives giving us their views on a wide range of topics related to skills, schools and further and higher education. The survey results are being collated in a skills policy report being produced by Proskills and kindly sponsored by International Timber.

Proskills have now produced the first draft to be published in the Spring of 2016. The CTI will present the findings to skills minister Nick Boles and Government officials in order to shape the political agenda on education and skills as indicated in our recently published strategic plan.

As I said in my previous blog about skills the CTI strongly believes that Education and Skills development is critical to ensure that Timber leads the way in 21st Century Construction. Members of our skills working group agreed last year that to start with we need to answer some basic questions:

  • Where are the skills shortages and skills gaps?
  • Do colleges and universities engage with timber businesses?
  • Does the industry want to take on more apprentices? What are the policy barriers?

Thanks to a very good response from businesses in the timber supply chain we have now received a wide range of answers to these questions which will help us to reflect what you need in the workplace. Initial findings indicate that several sub sectors already have plans underway to tackle skills needs but in other places the industry still needs to articulate the requirement for increased demand for timber-specific content. Equally, Government clearly still has to provide more support and make a stronger case for investment in training across the timber supply chain.

Thanks to International Timber’s generous support the CTI has been able to ask Proskills to put your views on key policy issues in a report which they will present at the CTI's inaugural industry conference, kindly sponsored by premium sponsor CIFS Nexus, in the Spring.

If CTI members are interested in a preview of the draft report’s provisional findings the CTI’s Skills and Education working group will be meeting again in London on 25 April to discuss the initial outcomes. Do get in touch with the CTI if you would like to attend.

 

[Blog URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-cti-gets-great-response-industry-skill-shortages-timber-supply-chain]

CTI Blog - Driving the policy agenda on Value & Growth

Dirk VennixThis blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Over the Easter break I was thinking it would be good if we gave an update on the steady progress we’re making with the CTI’s Value and Growth report. This is being produced by Egan Consulting and kindly sponsored by Arbor Forest Products.

Last year the CTI’s supporters working group for this policy area, which included six trade associations and several timber export organisations, discussed the key issues at our first meeting. It was clear from the off that more needs to be done to help increase the use of sustainable timber. So far industry dialogue with Government on incentives for growth had been quite limited whilst the sector has had to deal with tough economic times and is only just starting to show some modest signs of growth.

In order to drive this important agenda forward supporters and members asked the CTI to assess the various sector markets and investigate the potential for new policy incentives. To start with we had to get a better understanding of the growth opportunities and competitive pressures throughout the timber supply chain.

The working group agreed that we needed to ask some key questions:

•             What are the growing markets and which have potential to grow faster? 

•             Which markets are struggling and need a boost?

•             Where do the timber industries need more government support?

As part of the internal consultation Egan Consulting conducted a process mapping exercise kindly assisted by Structural Timber Association and TImber Trade Federation. This is where CTI supporters representing a range of sector markets provided valuable input. Subsequently, we asked a number of companies to pitch for the project which would collate existing market data, identify the opportunities and threats to markets within the timber supply chain and identify their specific prospects from now until 2020.

But before the CTI could commission the report we had to secure funding to cover the costs and we are very grateful to independently owned Arbor Forest Products for providing us with invaluable sponsorship. As the first business member of the CTI they have been very supportive of the formation of the CTI and its objectives from its inception. Award-winning Arbor Forest Products is a major UK wide timber business and supplies more than 225,000m3 of quality timber to the building, DIY and construction trades, through independent merchants, each year.

Thanks to Arbor’s generous support the CTI was able to commission Egan Consulting. Peter Egan and Allen Erskine have now nearly finalised a draft report which will include an overview of timber consumption in the UK as well as forecasts relating to markets such as sawmilling, timber trade, wood based panels, processed wood, fencing, builders’ merchants, construction, furniture, packaging, pulp and paper. The report will be presented at the CTI's inaugural industry conference, kindly sponsored by premium sponsor CIFS Nexus, in May/June this year.

If CTI members are interested in a preview of the draft report’s provisional findings the CTI’s Value and Growth working group will be meeting again in London on 15 April to discuss the initial outcomes. Do get in touch with the CTI if you would like to attend.

 

[Blog URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-driving-policy-agenda-value-growth]

CTI Blog - CTI putting timber industry back in the spotlight

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

We witnessed another memorable moment last week. For the first time in the history of the timber industry more than 40 parliamentarians announced that they would form a group to help grow the use of sustainable timber and develop more vibrant industries across the whole timber supply chain.

On 9 February fifteen parliamentarians attended the first meeting of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Timber Industries and had an initial discussion about tackling key issues such as business growth, sustainability and skills shortages. They unanimously elected a cross-party officers group consisting of Chairman Ian Paisley MP for North Antrim in Northern Ireland (Democratic Unionists), Joint Vice Chair and former minister Cheryl Gillan MP for Chesham and Amersham (Conservatives), Joint Vice Chair Stephen Hepburn MP for Jarrow (Labour), Treasurer and Chair of the Wood Panel Industry APPG Steven Paterson MP for Stirling (SNP) and Secretary and Chair of the Furniture APPG Stephen McPartland MP for Stevenage (Conservatives).

All members of the new group have voiced their willingness to promote the use of timber UK wide but also support local timber related companies. The MPs are really very keen to meet with constituency businesses and as a result the CTI has around a dozen visits in the pipeline already.

The first took place on 12 February when APPG member Pat McFadden MP for Wolverhampton South East went to see CTI supporter John Grimes Sawmills in Wolverhampton. The MP was elected at the 2005 general election and served as Minister of State in the Department for Business in the Tony Blair government. He was also a shadow minister for Europe on the Labour front bench. Pat McFadden was welcomed to the site by Arvid Nielsen, Operations Director of John Grimes Sawmills Ltd (JGS Ltd) and John Dibble, Managing Director of the Building & Plumbing Supplies Group, which are the parent Company of JGS Ltd.

Arvid (pictured below with cap on) runs the manufacturing wholesale business, which has been based in Wolverhampton for over 30 years.  Arvid has been hands on in a variety of wood trade related fields for over 38 years.  Being a third generation wood trade member, he keeps his grandfather and father’s name present in the timber industry as well as trading with some sense of traditional ethical values. JGS Ltd specialise in the production of quality fencing panels which are supplied to fencing contractors and builders merchants all round the country. Arvid gave the MP a tour of the site which is proud to employ 20 staff and manufacture in excess of 10,000 panels per week with yard stock capacity of over 70,000 panels. 

Given his background as a former business minister Pat McFadden was impressed with the manufacturing capability and pleased to hear that the company has plans to expand. Arvid told the MP he is keen to stay in the local area and provide further opportunities for employment and training. John Grimes Sawmills already employs a number of apprentices and is keen to encourage more young people to start a career in timber manufacturing. Pat McFadden said he was happy to help the local business in any way he can.

The launch of the new APPG and the MP visit were good examples of how the CTI is raising the profile of timber industry within the parliamentary world and we are keen to help other supporters to connect with their local MP. Do get in touch if you are one of them.

Pat McFadden MP visit to John Grimes Sawmills
12 February 2016, Wolverhampton

CTI Blog - CTI launches largest ever survey on skill shortages in timber supply chain

This blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

I am really pleased to announce that the Confederation of Timber Industry (CTI) has published the largest employer skills questionnaire ever undertaken in the UK's Timber Industry Supply Chain. The views of businesses on skills and education will be summarised in a policy report to be published in the Spring of 2016. The CTI will present the findings to Government and key stakeholders in order to shape the political agenda on education and skills as indicated in our recently published strategic plan.

As I said in my previous blog about skills the CTI strongly believes that Education and Skills development is critical to ensure that Timber leads the way in 21st Century Construction. On the 23th of September 2015 the CTI network set up a specific working group on this subject involving a range of organisations and companies across the Timber Industry. We agreed that to start with we need to answer some basic questions: where are the skills shortages? Where will the supply come from? What is needed in terms of funding and infrastructure? How do we get the next generation to want a career in the timber sector?

The last major employers’ survey for the timber sector was conducted by Proskills in 2011. We now need up to date research which identifies the current level of skills shortages and gaps in education provision within the whole Timber Industry Supply Chain, from timber traders to timber frame manufacturers and builders’ merchants. It will be distributed to businesses through trade associations, training providers and other interested parties operating in the UK.

The CTI has commissioned Proskills to map current education providers delivering to the sector, highlighting gaps between supply and demand. Similarly, the research will identify areas of strength and excellence offering a catalyst for the engagement of the industry in improving skills, recruitment and training. 

Succession planning for an ageing workforce and gaps in provision are issues which need to be addressed. Few young people decide to choose timber as a career option, as repeatedly outlined by trade organisations, training providers and companies. This issue is exacerbated by the limited offer of further Education courses, apprenticeships and craft qualifications that affects the growth of the whole sector. It is time to turn the page addressing the problem with focused measures.

The launch of the survey represents a great opportunity for the timber industries to express their views about skills needs. Everyone is keen to encourage young people to go for a career in the timber sector. Depending on the outcomes of the survey the CTI could raise the profile of the industry with young people by supporting the launch of new timber related courses as well as helping increase the number of apprenticeships and developing an ambassadorial schools network across the supply chain. But first of all we need to hear your views so please help us to reflect what you need in the workplace by filling in the survey below.

The survey is accessible online or through a printable version, downloadable here.

Deadline for submissions: 5 February 2016

CTI publishes three year strategic plan

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

In June 2015 30 organisations came together to launch the CTI. Six months on, the Confederation has doubled in size, providing the CTI with an even bigger platform to deliver its vision: one campaigning voice which will help develop a vibrant and increasingly prosperous industry.  

In order to make this all happen the CTI Board recently had a look at where the industry is now and could be in the next few years. Today the CTI publishes its strategic plan for 2015-2017 which is going to address four strategic themes: stakeholder engagement, growth, skills and sustainability.

Stakeholder engagement

It is fair to say that the timber supply chain is pretty fragmented and up to now has not had a single industry voice on policy issues that matter. The CTI will engage with Governments and parliaments to help build support for issues such as growth, skills an sustainability. In 2016 activities include our inaugural stakeholder conference with contributions from ministers, parliamentarians, industry executives and other key stakeholders as well as events which are being planned by a new parliamentary group for the timber industries. Watch this space!

Growth

So far industry dialogue with Government on incentives for growth has been quite limited whilst the various sectors in the supply chain have had to deal with tough economic times and are only just starting to show some growth now. In order to help grow the use of timber the CTI will publish a report assessing the markets and start developing new incentives, local government partnerships and alliances with construction and manufacturing sectors.

Skills

If the industry is going to grow this will exacerbate the existing skills shortages and gaps in the education system. Not enough young people are looking for work in the timber industry. On top of that, the provision of further and higher education courses is fairly minimal across the country and there are not enough apprenticeships in the supply chain. The CTI has commissioned Proskills to assess industry needs in 2016 and where required will support the launch of new timber related courses for young people as well as help increase the number of apprenticeships. We will also encourage more young people to go for a career in the sector by helping to develop an ambassadorial schools network across the supply chain.

Sustainability

Last but not least, the Board’s stocktake found that the sector could do more to develop a credible place at the forefront of the low carbon society. The CTI will publish a report which further develops the case for low carbon footprint and further contributions to the UK’s carbon reduction targets.  We will also help CTI members in their quest to ensure consistent application of existing certification standards and improve implementation of timber related regulations in the EU.

Next steps

Needless to say there is a lot of work to be done in the next few years. In the short term, the CTI will publish and present the Board’s initial findings and recommendations to Government on growth, skills and sustainability at our inaugural stakeholder conference in May 2016.

It will take a while for the CTI to develop further but the building blocks have been put in place and we have made substantial progress with the strategic plan which you will find on our website. Not even in my wildest dreams did I picture an industry landscape with such a high degree of support after six months. I hope more organisations will join the CTI network and help us to continue to take baby steps to a brighter future for the benefit of the whole timber supply chain.

Download CTI Strategic Plan 2015-2017

Pages